Dr Terry Lyons - Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology - Participation in STEM - influencing choice

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Dr Terry Lyons delivered the presentation at the 2014 STEM Conference.

The STEM Education Conference in 2014 looked not only at some of the key advantages and critical gaps in STEM education but also explore the policy and strategy settings that can enable participation and quality learning of STEM.

For more information about the event, please visit: http://bit.ly/STEMConf2014

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Dr Terry Lyons - Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology - Participation in STEM - influencing choice

  1. 1. Teacher influence on trends in science participation, attitudes and international test results Terry Lyons Queensland University of Technology terry.lyons@qut.edu.au
  2. 2. Problems?
  3. 3. “There has been one major state or national inquiry into teacher education every year for the past 30 years No other program of professional preparation has been thought to warrant such scrutiny.” (Dinham, 2013)
  4. 4. To what extent are teachers responsible for… 1. declines in senior science enrolments? 2. declines in student attitudes to science? 3. declines in PISA results in scientific literacy?
  5. 5. 1. To what extent can declines in senior science enrolments be attributed to teacher?
  6. 6. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 Physics Chemistry Biology Multistrand % % Year 12 students enrolling in science 1992 - 2012
  7. 7. Changes in real Year 12 numbers In 2012 there were 30800 more students than in 1992, but … • 8000 fewer physics students; • 4000 fewer chemistry students: • 13 000 fewer biology students;
  8. 8. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 Physics Chemistry Biology Multistrand % % Year 12 students enrolling in science 1992 - 2012
  9. 9. Greater curriculum diversity in senior high school Greater distribution of students across subjects University analysis of school enrolment trends and strategic responses New courses to cater for greater curriculum diversity. Less restrictive entry requirements (Assumed knowledge, bridging courses) University strategies reinforce credibility of non-traditional subjects among schools and students, and reduce the strategic utility of science and math subjects, Policies to increase retention into senior high school
  10. 10. Therefore, arguments which seek to directly link declines in science enrolments to teacher quality are weak.
  11. 11. So, do teachers get a free pass? No. While to some extent enrolment trends have been influenced by macro level policy forces, science teaching has been left exposed. Not used to competing for market share, many teachers have been slow to revitalise their teaching, much of which still looks like it did twenty years ago.
  12. 12. 2. To what extent can declines in young people’s interest in science and science careers be attributed to teachers?
  13. 13. 2007 1977
  14. 14. 1977 2007
  15. 15. 1977 2007
  16. 16. 1977 2007
  17. 17. 3. To what extent can declines in student performance in international science tests be attributed to teachers?
  18. 18. Australian ranking in PISA Science 2000 2003 2006 2009 2012 Shanghai- China Shanghai- China Hong Kong- China Finland Singapore Hong Kong- China Japan Finland Finland Singapore Finland Korea Japan Hong Kong- China Japan Estonia Japan Korea Canada Korea Korea Australia Australia Australia Australia Australia
  19. 19. However… • The mean scores for Australian students in these years were 528, 525, 527, 527 and 521; • These scores are not significantly different to each other;
  20. 20. However… • In PISA 2000, 32 countries participated; • In PISA 2012, 65 countries participated; • Of the seven countries which outperformed Australia in 2012, four did not participate in 2000 three did not participate in 2003, two did not participate in 2006.
  21. 21. PISA 2000 (alternate) Countries significantly outperforming Australia PISA entry date Korea 2000 Japan 2000 Australia 2000 Countries significantly outperforming Australia PISA entry date Shanghai-China 2009 Hong-Kong China 2003 Singapore 2009 Japan 2000 Estonia 2006 Korea 2000 Australia 2000
  22. 22. People can come up with statistics to prove anything. Forfty percent of people know that!
  23. 23. – “The mean score difference between students in the lowest and highest socioeconomic quartiles represents around two-and-a-half years of schooling.” – Significant differences in the PISA scores of metropolitan, provincial and remote students; – Huge gap between indigenous and non indigenous students. So…is there a PISA science problem?
  24. 24. So, are science teachers just victims of misconceptions and statistics? No. The misconceptions focus public attention on science education, but distract us from the main game. Science subjects are no longer propped up by university structures. They have to stand on their own merits in open competition. Some teachers still do not appreciate this. Further, there is still compelling evidence that the quality of science teaching and science teacher preparation needs to be improved.
  25. 25. For example …
  26. 26. • Nearly 1 in 4 Year 10 students said they’d decided not to choose a senior science course because they did not have good junior science teachers; • More than ½ agreed that they did not choose senior science because they found school science uninteresting (Lyons & Quinn, 2010) • Similar to PISA 2006, where only ½ of Australian 15 year old students find science relevant -(Thomson & De Bortoli (2007)
  27. 27. • 38% of 589 science teachers believed that declines in enrolments were due to the declining quality of teaching in junior science; (Lyons & Quinn, 2010)
  28. 28. What do we need to focus on?
  29. 29. Pre-service and early career teacher education • A need for higher quality at all levels of science teacher education – entry, pre-service education, practical experience, mentoring, professional learning; • Universities are too slow to transition from the 1 year (8 months!) Grad.Dip Ed. program to a two year minimum qualification; • Too high an attrition rate in early years of teaching (suggesting either unsuitable candidates, or inadequate preparation.
  30. 30. Thank you

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